Huntingburg VFW celebrates 75 years

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Brad Gentry of Huntingburg, vice president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 Auxiliary, serves a drink to Becky Tanner of Huntingburg at the VFW post in Huntingburg on Tuesday. Today is the Post's 75th anniversary. Brad became involved as a volunteer to honor his family members. "I'm just proud of my father and brother for being veterans of foreign wars," he said.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Family. Camaraderie.

These are their own words, the ways that members of Huntingburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 and its auxiliary group verbalize the way the organization has left its mark on them.

Today, the local chapter celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Though membership in both outfits has dramatically dipped in recent years, the togetherness it creates inside and outside the Huntingburg veteran community remains a Huntingburg staple.

“75 years, that’s something,” said Acting Post Commander Jim Anderson. “That’s saying something.”

Anderson knows what he knows. He knows the city’s VFW post was chartered in 1945. He knows it moved nearby into its current building on North Geiger Street a quarter of a century later. He knows membership blossomed to 412 in 1970 and has since dropped to 162.

In its younger years, the VFW launched sports, and other activities and programs with area youth. It has raised money for community outfits and gave back in other ways throughout its long life, and members still do that today.

Recently, they have pooled together and donated funds to the Dubois County Museum and Special Olympics, and they’ve also gifted scholarships to students. The money comes from raffles, cookouts, bingo, billiards tournaments and more.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 keepsakes decorate the shelves at the post in Huntingburg on Tuesday.

“It just makes a warm spot in your heart to be able to help someone else,” said Marie Seibert, president of the VFW Auxiliary. “Veterans or just other people. And I just think that that’s what we’re here for.”

Veterans and auxiliary members who have spent decades with the group find value in the community that exists inside the building’s walls, too. It is a place for those with shared experiences to come together and bond, somewhere they can have a drink together or just feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.

“The military is such a big family that it’s kind of like they’re extended family,” Diane Blume, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, said of the VFW. “It’s like one big family to me.”

Allen Fritz said the group surrounds him with people he can talk to that have all been through similar situations. The outfit’s honor guard also fills a need — taking part in veteran funerals and decorating cemeteries with flags on Memorial Day.

Anderson isn’t exactly sure what the future of the local organization looks like. But he and everyone interviewed for this story is proud to be a part of it.

“Semper Fi,” Anderson said. “That’s ‘always faithful.’ That’s a [U.S.] Marine Corps thing, but it goes with the VFW, too.”

The Huntingburg VFW will commemorate its 75 years — known as a diamond anniversary — at its building on the evening of Monday, April 20. On that night, the chapter will be presented with a commemorative plaque.

William “Doc” Schmitz, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, congratulated all members of VFW Post 2366 in a press release.

“I send my sincere thanks and appreciation to the members of VFW Post 2366 for their outstanding record of service to the community, veterans and to the nation over the past 75 years,” Schmitz said.

Photographs of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 commanders decorate a wall at the post in Huntingburg on Tuesday.



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